Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi, how are you?  I hope your last week in the MTC is going well.  I'm glad that you get to leave for Mexico soon and begin the next part of your mission to preach the gospel to Heavenly Father's children.

Dad has the day off today.  He got a call from Cassandra which was a nice way to start the day.  They have a home phone now, so we can call them whenever we want without worrying about their minutes.  It is a long distance number, however, so we do have to worry about our minutes.  Still, I'm hoping we can talk more.

I liked yesterday; it was a nice day.  I spent much of my time driving kids to and from work.  I also went visiting teaching.  Sister Yarrington said she was so busy this week that she didn't even know when we could come visit, so I watched her kids for awhile instead so that she could get some things done.

Last night Miriam and I went to a barbeque with the camp leaders and youth camp leaders from girls camp.  It seems like they all had so much fun, they don't want to let go of it.  Heck, in just a few months, we'll be starting to plan the next one.  It was a fun barbeque and I enjoyed being with Miriam.

We had home teachers at 9:00 last night.  Pretty late, huh?  They gave us a good message about sustaining our church leaders.  They also gave us cookies :)

This morning I started reading the Book of John in order to study the characteristics of Christ.  One of the characteristic I studied, and one of Christ's strongest characteristics is that of being a perfect son.  He delights to glorify His father, Is with the father in all that He does, and participates in the work and the glory of His father Jn 1:1.  It helps me want to be a better child to my parents and to Heavenly Father.

Well, I think I'm going back to bed.  I love you, Matt.  Have a wonderful Friday.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28--Dear Elder: Elder Bednar's Talk, Driving with Grandma, Fire

Dear Elder,

Good Morning!  Actually, I guess it will be afternoon when you get this.  I hope you received the package we sent you yesterday.  Hopefully now you have everything.  I will transfer $400 into your account so that you will have money for baggage fees, phone calls, etc.  After you get safely to Mexico, we will probably withdraw some of that, but not all.  I just want to make sure that you have enough money for any contingency while you are traveling.

I am so excited that you will be able to call on Monday morning!  You'd better believe I'll stick around.  Dad is so sad that he can't be here.  The kid haven't gotten their schedules for next week, but they really want to be here, too.  Maybe it will be so early that everyone, even Dad, will still be around.  I hope so!  Call as early as you can :)

Wow, ten out of the 12 apostles!  That's pretty unusual, isn't it?  I sure wish I could have been there.  Thank you so much for writing to me about Elder Bednar's talk.  I read it and studied it this morning.  It increases my understanding of and my love for the Savior, Jesus Christ.  I tried to cut and paste his talk here on dearelder, but it is way too long.  I will have to send it to you, so you have that to look forward to.

It's amazing how much that talk goes along with what I am studying and pondering on right now.  Remember what I said about Christ not resting after his crucifixion, but going straight to the spirit world to minister to the spirits there?  This is another example of his consistently loving character that always put others' needs above His own.

Trying to be like Christ is so hard to do.  I am learning a lot, but really struggling to apply it, but this talk has helped me realize that If I study and pray and yearn to be like Christ, and then do everything in my power to act like Christ, He will, in His own time, bless me to have the pure love of Christ—Charity.  This is my ultimate goal.

I also read section 122 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  I thought about your insights as I read it and it made it even more meaningful.  It shows that Christ expects us to try it be like Him even in our suffering.  His high expectations for us show His love for us and shows that we can do it!

Well, yesterday Katrina, Miriam, and Dad worked, I cleaned and took care of Grandma, and Thomas went to a birthday party in Salt Lake.  Actually, Dad only had to work half a day because up the canyon was evacuated due to a fire, so he only taught at the blue and brown houses yesterday.  Today, they are is unevacuated, and Dad is back to teaching there.  Don't worry about your friend Rachael, fire fighters acted heroically and saved the town; no homes were burned, and everyone is safe.  The news said that burned brush circles untouched houses and barns.  It is a real blessing.

Last night, Miriam and Katrina had young women's, but Thomas didn't have young men's. While the girls were gone, Grandma wanted to go for a ride.  At first, she thought that she would be doing the driving, but I told her, no, Brian would drive, and I warned her that he would drive really fast (since she thinks that even 25 mph is fast).

She said that would be okay, so we loaded her up and took her and Thomas for a drive.  On the ride, she didn't tell Dad to slow down once.  She did ask for chocolate ice cream two or three times.  We didn't think she'd be able to eat an ice cream cone alone in the passenger seat, so we got her a pina colada Slurpee instead.  She seemed to quite like it.  We drove by Becky's house and also Don and Renee's, but no one was home.  It was a nice drive and I enjoyed getting out of the house.

Well, that's it.  We love you.  We loved getting your email.  Thanks for sharing all the spiritual things with us.  I wish I could have heard more about your studies and the devotionals you attended.  You are doing a great job, and I know that Heavenly Father is blessing you.  Have a great day, Matt.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last Email From Matt Before He Leaves the MTC

Hey! this is going to be my last letter from the MTC, so I'm going to get some information out befor I start. Mom, if you want any pictures, you are going to have to send me a few SD cards for my camera. I cannot send you mine until I have a new one, there is a big chance that it will get lost in the mail. I don't know how I'm going to do it but I am going to copy the pictures down somewhere, maybe if you sent me a 16 gig flash card or something like that.

Thank you all so much for that last package! It was super great! I still need those 4 hangers and my suite coat hanger if that's at all possible, if it isn't that's ok :) I don't need them super bad. Ok, I think that that's about it.

Half of our district is gone and I really miss them, we really grew a lot together and it's weird not having them here with us. We are leaving on Monday and that also seems very weird to me but I am looking forward to it with anticipation and a little nerviousness.  Oh! If it's possible, anyone that can should try to stay around the house in the morning on Monday because I'm going to call and say "Hi." I don't know how much time I'll have to talk but I know that we are allowed to do that.

We had a wonderful devotional yesterday with 10 of the 12 apostles present. It was about some of the church statistics. Before that on Sunday we watched a talk that Elder Bednar gave called: "the character of Christ" It was amazing and I wish that I could get a print out of it! Basically he said that having a testimony is good, but that's not enough, we need to be converted to Christ. Then he went in depth about just one aspect of the Character of Christ. Christ never ever turned inward, he was always always looking out for everyone else. Elder Bednar told us, and this is important, that a characteristic is highly developed, highly consistent and also highly visible. He also said that we should all search them out, because without the character of Christ, there wouldn't have been an atonement. He then said that it might be a good idea to buy a cheap copy of the standard works, bible and BOM, and with them look for other characteristics of Christ and how they are manifested and mark them. He then ended by saying that becoming converted is just being consistently true to your testimony. That was an amazing talk, I feel like there is still a lot to get out of it.

Umm, so you all ready for some more spiritual stuff? Cause that's about all I have haha! Ok, In D&C 122 while I was reading that, I realized that God asks us to do hard things, he knows us intimately and he know how difficult anything is for us. In D+C 122, I really feel like The Lord had tears in his eyes during that whole revelation, and at the end where He says basically: Know that all these things shall be for thy benefit, He is not apologizing. He knows what each of us needs, there is a perfect Plan and that Plan is being enacted daily. I am having a great time, it is hard sometimes but it's worth it.

How are all of you doing? Are the kids trying to read? How is Jon doing? What is everyone up to now that EFY is over and everything?
Dear Elder,

Hi.  How are you?  We are good.  I tried to send a letter by pouch so that you would have it in Mexico soon after you arrive, but it disappeared into the stratosphere.  I will try again later.  The pouch deadline is not till Monday the 2nd.  I hope you will get the letter the same week.

I guess you weren't able to email yesterday, but we hope we get one more letter from you before you leave.  Hopefully it will come tomorrow so that if you ask for anything, we can get it to you.  We will send you a package with the rest of the stuff you asked for on Saturday.

Yesterday was a good day.  Thomas was home from work and had to go get a physical.  His mother, who wasn't thinking very brightly, got him an appointment with the female nurse practitioner which was pretty embarrassing for him, but he handled it cool-ly.  He got a well-deserved ice cream cone afterwards.

Thomas helped me out a lot by hanging up Grandma's clothes and cleaning with me.  He also had fun Skyping with EFY friends and swimming at Jayden's.  The Taggs moved, but TJ and Loretta are renting the house across the street, and Jayden goes over there to swim.

Katrina got home later on and we went to the grocery store together.  She watered the plants (which takes about a half hour) and sat with Grandma, and watched Smallville.

Grandma is really attached to the kids.  Last night we all said prayer in her room and then about 15 minutes later she asked me if I knew where they were.  When I told her they were just in the other room, she said she was just making sure they weren't lost or something.  The other day, I was sitting with Grandma, and Katrina made a loud noise in the kitchen.  Grandma said, "that's one of the babies."
She still remembers Thomas's name, too.  He quizzes her on it every day, just to make sure.

When Dad got home, he put more of his currency up on ebay and that took him the rest of the day.  He worked from the time he woke up till the time he went to bed, pretty much, except for meals.  I slacked in the evening and wasted time on Pinterest.

Today I made dad oatmeal and boiled eggs for breakfast and a sandwich, apple, and pickled eggs for lunch.  I also baked muffins for the kid's breakfast and cut up a head of lettuce and packed it up along with dressing, apples, peaches, and muffins for Miriam so that she will have food to eat at work. Now I am writing to you :)

I didn't hear from Jon any more yesterday.  I hope his back got to feeling better.  I wonder when his roommates will show up.  I hope he gets another job, soon!  Last night Grandma called to get Jon's address so that she can send him a birthday card.  I'm glad he will be getting that since he already got his birthday present from us.

It was fun to talk to Grandma and Grandpa.  Great Grandma Haws came over on Sunday to stay with them for a week, but she went home again yesterday.  I guess she just plain wanted to be home.  I can understand that.

I've been wanting to share this post by Cassandra with you, it's so cute!  Here it is...

"Never leave your computer during an email chat:

  any idea when I should expect you?
2:21 PM Emerson: Regular time.
2:22 PM me: k. love you
2:23 PM ..
 Emerson: um
 me: 2
2:24 PM 33333333
 Emerson: do you think you're using excel?
 me: .035.0..45.
 Emerson: or is that Lily?
 me: 47..303.00000000000.233333333333333333333333333.00000000000001
 Emerson: Hi Lily"

Isn't that cute!

How did I do on my study goal yesterday?  Not real good.  It is so hard to apply what I've learned!  Still, I'm learning that it is a process.  Yesterday and the day before, I remembered what I learned throughout the day even though that rarely translated into living it.  Still, it is a step.  The word of God turns to spirit and fills our hearts with the Holy Ghost.  So I'm still trying to move the word from my mind to my heart, and I feel like I am making progress even though I fail often.

Well, have a wonderful day, Matt.  May the Spirit of the Lord be with you as you prepare to go out into the mission field to teach God's beloved Mexican people.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26--Dear Elder: Family Home Evening, Jon's Job, Skyping with Lily, Family News

Sorry about the format of this post.  I can't figure out how to fix it. 
Dear Elder,

Good morning!  Consider this letter your good-morning hug.  How are you? 
I hope you are doing well.  I know you are eating well, ha ha.  Actually,
I hear the food gets pretty old pretty quick.  I ate at a cafeteria on campus for two weeks in college while they remodeled the kitchens at the on campus apartments where I lived, and I ended up eating lots of yogurt, fruit, and salads. What do you like

We had a nice Family Home Evening on Sunday night.  Dad talked about our
freedom and how we are free because Heavenly Father blesses us, and we
need to be righteous in order to stay free.  He was referring to us as a
nation, and it also applies to us as individuals.  I talked about The
Family: A Proclamation to the World.  We had a nice time discussing these
things as a family.

Yesterday Dad, Miriam, and Thomas all worked.  Katrina was home and we
rode bikes down to the river bottoms and along part of the river trail. 
It was very fun and a good work out.  We also cleaned and grocery shopped.
 It was so fun having Katrina with me!  Last night was family night and we
all went to the laundry and washed clothes.  Pretty fun, huh?  While the clothes washed, we walked up to the frozen yogurt place by campus to see if they had sugar free yogurt, which they did, so we got frozen yogurt and had fun eating it and talking.  Then, Dad went hiking up to the "Y" while we
dried, folded, and hung the clothes.  Dad got back just as we finished,
and we read scriptures in the car on the way home.

Jonathan started his job, Monday.  They had him dig holes all day.  I
guess it was pretty bad because he called this morning to say his back is
killing him, and he can't go in today, so that's the end of that job.  He
is just resting his back today, I think, but he hopes he can get other
temporary jobs soon.  I do, too!

Yesterday we Skyped with Lily's family.  Emerson was home sick, and Lily was
just getting over being sick.  We has lots of fun visiting, and Lily was
pretty active for being sick, dancing on her mommy's lap, and jabbering. 
It's so fun that she will interact with us now.

Well, Matt.  I'm still studying PMG and I am learning to ponder more.  My
goal today is to try to see others without letting myself get in the way. 
Does that make sense?  Listen with love and no fear, no judging, no wondering about
how what they are saying affects me.  Basically seeing them as God sees

Well, Thomas has a Scout physical in less than thirty minutes, so I've got
to go shower.  Have a wonderful day!


June 25--Dear Elder: Jon's Birthday Celebration and Madlibs, Family News

Dear Elder,

Hi.  It is Sunday afternoon and I just saw Jonathan off. He is going back home and starts work tomorrow.  Since he was down, we celebrated his birthday a week early.  He wanted tres leches cake which we ate outside along with strawberry ice cream.  We did birthday Madlibs and enjoyed talking and laughing together.  I’m so glad he got to come down!

On Saturday Miriam worked for 12 hours, that is a long time!  I picked Thomas and Katrina up from EFY early that morning and Brian picked up Miriam from youth conference very late the night before (after the pageant).  Thomas worked till 1:30 and then hung out with Jon a bit and rested a bit and then hung out with friends a bit.  Katrina also hung out with friend and also rested.  Dad went to the hunting store to see if he could sell them his guns for a good price—he couldn’t, and he also exercised.  I did some yard work and some shopping.  That night, Dad and I went to a movie. 

Wow, this letter is so boring!  I’m going to end it now before the computer falls asleep.  I’ll try again tomorrow.

Hi, Matt.  It’s Monday!  Soon you will be leaving to Mexico.  How does that feel?  How do you like your back scratcher?  I also bought lotion and a lotion applicator to help you rub it on your back.  I am not planning to send It unless you say you want it, so let me know.  It really will cure an itchy back.
Well, as you know, we have a tradition of doing Madlibs on birthdays, and yesterday we did one for Jon.  

Jon's Birthday Madlibs

 "Galactic President Captain Awesomeville’s Excellent Adventures

“Holey Bikini, Batman!”  These were the google words of nerds when they heard just how boring Jonathan will be next week.  It’s not that he’s nagging, it’s just that he’s incessant to us.   Well…with great porcupines comes great animosity, and Jonathan is full of it. 

Jonathan has had some stinky adventures this year.  For one thing, he graduated with a ridiculous  degree in plaid from Smokey College.  We are very annoyed for him for such a punching bag.

He also went to Dubai earlier this summer returning with a marlin stick and a plastic koala bear.  He learned that Uruguayan  apple blossoms  taste great, and that the French aren’t very popular in America.  He also learned how to get across the Chinatown border successfully.

Jonathan’s yucky adventure was to impale all the way  to college.  He already has a tome and a urg and is signed up for the Fourth of July semester at  Charm School where he will become an official student.  I think their mascot is a penguin. 

This week, Jon is back so that we can squeeze his birthday a week early with prune cake,  bicycle cream, and slow dogs.  Jon is quick to do evil, purple, and bushy.  We are glad that Jon came home for this smooth celebration and wish him the very whiniest in his new home away from home."  

Well, that was it.  Jon and Thomas also decided that since "dude" is such a descriptive word, we should also make a dude version of Jonathan's birthday.  Here's how it turned out:

Jonathan’s Dude Adventures

“Dude!”  These were the exact words of dudes when they heard just how dude Jonathan will be next week.  It’s not that he’s dude, it’s just that he’s dude to us.   Well…with great age comes great dudeness, and Jonathan is full of it.
Jonathan has had some dude adventures this year.  For one thing, he graduated with an dude degree in dudeness from dude College.  We are very proud of him for such dude.

He also went to Dude earlier this summer returning with a dude stick and a plastic dude.  He learned that Dude donuts taste great, and that Dudes aren’t very dude in Canada.  He also learned how to dude across the dude border successfully.

Jonathan’s latest adventure was to dude all the way  to collegd.  He already has a dude and a dude and is signed up for dude semester at Dude University where he will become an official dude.  I think their mascot is a dude. 

This week, Jon is back so that we can celebrate his dudeday a week early with dude cake, dude cream, and dude dogs.  Jon is dude, dude, and dude.  We are glad that Jon came home for this exciting dudeness and wish him the very best in his new dude away from dude.

The real one is very lame, but now that I've written the above lame stuff, I may as well add it too:

  “Holy Moley!”  These were the exact words of someone when they heard just how old Jonathan will be next week.  They also sait that its not that he’s old, it’s just that he’s old to us.   Well…with great age comes great combustibility, and Jonathan is full of it. 

Jonathan has had some wonderful adventures this year.  For one thing, he graduated with an assosciate’s degree in pshchology from junior college.  We are very proud of him for such an accomplishment.

He also went to Canada earlier this summer returning with a hockey stick and a plastic duck.  He learned that Canadian donuts taste great, and that Americans aren’t very popular in Canada.  He also learned how to get across the Canadian border successfully.

Jonathan’s latest adventure was to move all the way  to the university.  He already has an apartment and a job and is signed up for fall semester of school where he will become an official university student.  I think the school's  mascot is a cow. 

This week, Jon is back so that we can celebrate his birthday a week early with tres leches cake, ice cream, and hot dogs.  Jon is smart, funny, and compassionate  We are glad that Jon came home for this exciting celebration and wish him the very best in his new home away from home.  

Well, there you go.  Now, Jon is gone and Miriam, Dad and Thomas are working.  Katrina and I are going bike riding and shopping and stuff.  I am still studying Preach my Gospel, and it is a real blessing in my life!  I love you very much, Matt!


Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22--Dear Elder: Gospel Study, Family News

Dear Elder,

Hi.  I just studied the gospel, and I am still so excited about it right now, that I want to write about that first because I know you care, and I know that you will be happy about me studying.

I had a hard time at the beginning of my studying today.  For one thing, I woke up at 5:40, and fell asleep twice while I studied.  But then I came to a spot in "Preach My Gospel" that assigned me to read the Doctrine and Covenants, section 138 verses 1 through 11.  I read those verses, and then the whole section, and it touched me like never before, and I felt the Holy Ghost as I read.  As you know, it is the section where President Joseph F. Smith has a vision of Christ visiting the spirit world after his crucifixion.

As I pondered on this section, I marveled at the love and faithfulness of Jesus Christ who, after suffering, bleeding, and dying, still didn't rest.  Instead he went and proclaimed liberty to the righteous dead, preached  His gospel to them, and organized missionaries from the righteous dead to preach the gospel to the suffering spirits in spirit prison (D&C 138 1-11, 25-37). 

I recalled Christ himself giving a parable that teaches about such faithfulness in Luke 17 verses 5-10. In these verses, Christ's apostles ask, "Lord, increase our faith."  The Lord then tells them that if they have the faith of a mustard seed, they can do great things and then he teaches them the parable.

In it, a servant works all day in the fields, but returning from the fields, he does not rest.  Instead he prepares a meal for his master to sup, serves his master till he is full, and still declares himself an unprofitable servant, saying he had only done his duty.

This scripture shows that we increase our faith by proving our faithfulness.  Christ was the perfect example of this; He is the perfect example of faithfulness.  He taught the principle and then showed the way. 

As I pondered this, I realized that I can apply this  principle of faithfullness to my scripture study.  I study in order to increase my faith, and when my studying is finished, I need to not stop, but continue working and serving God.  In other words, I need to reflect on an live what I studied all day, and at the end of it, realize that I have only done my duty.  If I study and then move on with the day, never thinking of or living according to what I learned, I am unfaithful, and my faith won’t increase. 

My goal today:   Be a faithful servant today in thought:  Pondering on what I have learned throughout the day, word:  Praying often for added insight and sharing what I learned with others, and deed:  not resting, but continually serving God and his children.  I'm not very good at remembering and applying what I learn in scripture study, that's why I think the Holy Ghost directed me to study and ponder on these things.  I hope I can reach my goal today.  Maybe it would help to report to you how I did.  I'll try to to that, Matt.

Well, how are you?  Guess what?  I found a back scratcher!!!  We are going to try to get it to you today along with the other things you asked for:)  I hope you haven't been too itchy, you sure seem to want one.  I'm sure glad I found one.  It's wood, and it's not really that good at scratching, so I'm going to get Dad's help to sand it to be sharper.

Yesterday didn't go as planned.  For one thing, Grandma was awake all day, so we stayed home.  Dad posted a bunch of his guns that he wants to sell on and ebay.  It took him all day long.  I did yard work and took care of Grandma.  Selling his guns will help us make up the money Dad lost when he lost his summer program.  It was a pretty good day.

We got to talk to Jonathan periodically throughout the day which was nice.  He's got a concrete or construction job (I can't remember which) all lined up for next Tuesday, but that leaves him 4 days with nothing to do and no roommates around.  He finally went in to the mystery room, an no one was there, of course, just music.  I hope he spends lots of his time looking for a job--he needs to get a job for the fall that won't interfere with his classes.  He seemed to be in fairly good spirits which is good.

When we Skyped with Cassandra the other day, she was saying that she likes the climate in Texas and doesn't want to live in the snow ever again.  I don't blame her, ha ha.  Being an Arizona girl, I don't have much use for the snow either, even on Christmas.  Still, the weather around here in the summer is so wonderful, isn't it?  It is so nice to go out in the pleasant cool and do yard work.  I actually enjoyed weeding yesterday!

Miriam got home from work at 5:30, and Dad cooked us steak.  Neither he nor I were very hungry, so we all three shared one steak.  At 7:00 Miriam left for the fun center with the ward young men and young women.  She got home at about 11:30 and seemed pretty happy, but hungry.  Guess we should have fed her more steak!  I think she had a fun time. This morning she is off at youth conference and I hope it is a wonderful experience for her.

At 7:30, after seeing Miriam off, we drove into the laundry and walked up to campus from there to drop off some money and a camera to Katrina and Thomas.  This is their last day at EFY.  It was fun to see Katrina for a second and give her the stuff.  It is so fun to be with Dad.  No matter what we do, we have a wonderful time.  There is no one else on earth I would rather be with than your dad.  He is so kind and thoughtful and so interesting to talk to and fun to be with .  We have had such a nice week off together!

Okey dokey, artichokey, it's time to get a move-on with the day.  I love you very much, Matt.  Thanks for reading my very long-winded letters.  Your example means so much to me, and I truly thank you for your encouragement to make goals and study the gospel more diligently.  It is helping me improve my relationship with God.  Wow, look, you aren't even in the mission field yet, and are already helping others live the gospel!  Way to go, Elder Cole! 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21 2012--Dear Elder: Family News, Pondering

Dear Elder Cole,

Hi!  Thanks for the email you sent us yesterday.  It was sure nice to read.  Dad told me last night that he got one from you, too.  You have no idea how happy you made him.  How are you doing?  Sounds like you really get some nice rest and relaxation on P-days and I think that's great!  I hope you are all rested now and ready for another week of learning!

What?? I just looked at the clock.  Is it really 8:42?? I got up at 6:30.  Where did all the time go?    My how time flies!  Well, Dad had a hard time getting to sleep last night and he's still sleeping now which is good.  Miram left for work, and and Grandma is also still sleeping.  That leaves just me in a nice peaceful house. :)

Yesterday was a very nice day.  In the morning, Dad and I went bike riding.  We started at the house and rode down into the river bottoms.  Actually, I walked my bike down the hill because it's a steep hill and I didn't want one of our brake cable's snapping and one of us dying.  Then we biked along the rode that cuts across the river bottoms and rode along the river trail.  We had lots of fun.  We saw a snake and lots of little varmits that infest the area and eat wheat from the fields.  We saw one particularly hefty one that we dubbed "Fat Varmit" in honor of Fat Albert.  Then we rode back home and again we walked our bikes up the hill because exercise is great and all that, but let's not over do it, right?

Well, Grandma was awake all day yesterday.  I guess she's making up for all those days that she slept most the day.  Because of this, we didn't do much.  We did buy another watermelon for Grandma and also some Stouffer's food for her.  In the evening I went to young men/young women with Miriam and helped kids do indexing.  I brought my little notebook computer.  As you probably know, indexing is where they digitize records like census records so that the names and information are searchable for family history work.  Miriam did 80 names last night.  She's really good at indexing.

Jon called this morning.  He called the temp service yesterday and today and they didn't have any jobs.  He's getting real nervous.  I told him to spend the day applying for jobs. I really hope he does that.  When we moved Jon in, we saw signs of other roommates all over the place, but Jon hasn't seen anyone's face yet.  That one room is still closed and there is still music coming from it, but no one has emerged even to go to the bathroom.  The Mystery of the Missing Roommates!!!

Both Katrina and Thomas called me yesterday.  It was nice to hear that Katrina is still happy and having a great time.  She went to a talk on preaching the gospel, and I told her that you would like that.  It was also nice to finally hear from Thomas.  He is happy, too, and really likes his roommate and his EFY group.  This is his first EFY ever, and I think it's really making an impression on him.

I have no idea what we will do today--guess that depends on Grandma.  We kind of wanted to tour the pay gardens at Thanksgiving Point or ride the tram at Sundance, but we'll see about that.  We definitely plan to grill steaks tonight for dinner.  Miriam gets home at 5:00 and leaves for an amusement park with the young men and young women at 7:00, so that leaves us plenty of time to have a grilled steak dinner with her.

I never don't not use multiple negatives, ha ha!  Actually you are right--the fact that you could decipher my meaning shows the height, depth, and breath of our mutual understanding :) Thanks for the insights about pondering.  They really did help me.

I pondered better this morning than I have in a long time.  First, I had to sleep, though.  Usually when I try to ponder, that's the first thing that happens.  When I woke up, though, I resumed pondering the following scripture:  "And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the king"
(Doctrine and Covenants 39:6).  I pondered the question, "What does peaceable mean?"  I wrote my thoughts as I pondered, and I didn't worry if they made much sense or followed any order.

I eventually began pondering on how Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and how the atonement of Jesus Christ brings ultimate peace.  I wrote down some ways that the atonement brings peace, and was reminded that if I always remember the Prince of Peace, I will be filled with peace.  That thought led me to look up the words of Mormon in Ether 12:41 that say, "And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.
This scripture goes along so well with my past studies that I knew I was studying with the Holy Ghost to guide me.

I pondered on how to seek Jesus, and made a goal for today to not only do good, but to remember that I am doing good for Christ's sake, and seek Him in everything that I do.  Again, thank you for your pointers on pondering.  They helped me so much!

Well, Matt, I have a big long list of things to get for you.  Maybe that is what we'll do today--shop for them.  We love you very much and hope you have a wonderful day.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Email from Matt!

We got this email from Matt today :) 

Hey! Yes, I wasn't here last week on my usual P-day, I did send a letter though and I expect that you will probably get it today :) Thanks for all of the Dear elders and E-mails. I hope that EFY is good for Katrina and Thomas. 

On P-days we wake up super early, then go to the temple, get back and E-mail, do personal study and from there on out the whole day is pretty much weird, we have nothing scheduled until about 5:25 which is dinner and then class, so, we do laundry, we can go to the gym, we can get sack lunches and write letters,. We sleep and play games and just goof off a bit here and there. Then class starts again and
we get back down to business.

Mom asked all what I needed before I head out, and I guess what I need is...  4 more hangers, my suite hanger, a back scratch er, my other pair of shoes, and... I think that's about it... or that's all that I can think of.

Jon, Miriam, Mom,and Dad, I hope your week is going well and that you all are having fun! Mom, you mentioned something about Pondering in your last Dear elder, I was a little confused because you said that you wanted to ponder more, "Which is not something I have never been good at," I tried to decode that, and all I can come up with is that you and I are very close because you don't feel the need to clarify yourself and to use double negatives ;) because we understand each other on a "higher plain" ha ha! Well anyway, I don't have my study journal with me right now, with the exact quote, but I heard something last night in our devotional that answered my question about pondering. I also don't know how to ponder very well.  President Robbins, our speaker, said that it is almost impossible to ponder unless we have a question in our minds. I bet that you already have a specific question in your mind and try to ponder it, but maybe that will help. Another interesting point that he shared was that most revelation comes early in the morning, and that we almost never receive an answer to our prayers while we are on our knees. There are so many good talks and devotionals here, I'm really going to miss that when I get to the field, and, in answer to your other question, I leave on July 2nd, a week and 5 days from today. I love you all! I'm trying to think if you had any other questions for me to answer but I haven't written any thing else in my planner... So I'm guessing not.  

Spanish is going well, we spoke only in Spanish yesterday and it was challenging and fun at the same time. Half of our district leaves on this Tuesday and we leave on the Monday. We are all excited but then again, we are all scared witless. That reminds me, If you want any of the pictures that I've taken here, you are going to have to send me a memory card (or two!!!) and then I will send you the one with the pictures that I have taken on it. I have seen Tanner around here and it's been very fun to talk to him. I love you all! Please send a BACK


June 20 2012--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

We got a letter from you yesterday.  Hooray!!!  What a great surprise.  Why did you have to go to Vegas to get your Visa?  Is that common for missionaries going to your mission?  Thanks for letting us know your exact departure date.  We need to get you a phone card because I hear that you can call us from the airport.  That would be pretty cool!  Don't worry, we can still write you letters with Dear Elder when you are in Mexico, although they will probably come weekly instead of daily.  As for packages, you'll probably even get a few of those on special occasions.

Wow, I had no idea that we had your shoes.  I thought you had them all, but, yes, I found them and we will send them.  But what's this about a back scratch-er?  Is it a joke?  We had one for years and no one used it, so I think I chucked it.  I don't even know where to buy a back scratch-er, but I will definitely look for one.  If your back is itchy, I know how to get rid of that because I suffered with a itchy back for years until I took Katrina to the dermatologist for rashes, and I asked him about it.  So, here's what do.  When you shower, your skin soaks up water, so when you get out of the shower, pat your back dry so that it's not dripping, but there is still water on it, then rub lotion all over it.  The lotion traps in the moisture and gets rid of the dryness and you stop itching after a few days.  I know it's hard to rub lotion on your own back, but you can do it.  Hope this helps.  We'll try to send you lotion, too.

You are so right that I like listening to Sheri Dew speak.  She is so awesome!  Every time I hear her talk, I get inspired.  I'm so glad you got to see her.  Did she give a good talk?  Of course she did!

That was so nice of Sarah to send you Thomas's Facebook post.  I hope you have been able to write to her and to other people.  Did you get the email addresses that I sent? 

Just think, in 12 days you will be flying to Mexico!  It's so exciting.  I was talking to Sister Tuckett and she said Jared struggled a bit when he got to Nicaragua because most of the missionaries spoke Spanish and he didn't and it was kind of lonely for him.  Things got better, though, and he's doing well.  I don't know if you will feel that way, but I think it's good to have a heads up about it.

Yesterday Dad and I drove to help get Jon established there.  He is now moved in to his apartment.  I hope things go well for him and that he can start working soon.  I also hope that he likes his roommates.  Yesterday he said his one room mate never even left his room.  Not good.  I hope today is better.  We really enjoyed helping him out and eating lunch with him and going to Walmart with him.  It is a looooong drive, but Dad and I had fun seeing the beautiful scenery and visiting with each other. 

The reason I even got to go with Dad is that Elizabeth came to take care of Grandma.  She brought her kids and they hung out.  I hope they kind of had fun, because it was really nice of her.  It gave us peace of mind to know that if Grandma woke up, she would get a drink and some food.  Lately she hasn't been waking up till around 4 pm, and that's when she finally woke up yesterday.  So Elizabeth was here from 12 to 4 and Grandma didn't even wake up till 4.  Anyway, Elizabeth took care of her at 4 and I really really appreciate it.  She even cleaned the kitchen and living room!  I owe her big time.

I got to talk to Katrina on the phone yesterday.  She says she really likes her roommate and is enjoying EFY.  She has seen Thomas a very little bit and I asked her to give him the phone next time she sees him and have him call us.  I sure hope he is happy, too, and that we hear from him today.

Miriam went to a work party last night.  It started at 9:00 pm.  Dad was so sweet.  He let me go to bed at 9:00 and he put Grandma to bed alone and picked up Miriam at 11:00 pm.  I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night.  It feels so good!  Miriam said the party was boring.

This morning Dad and I got to Skype with Cassandra and Lily.  Boy was that fun!  We heard Lily say "Good Girl" and "Pooh Bear" which both sound exactly the same.  She is also into sticking out her tongue and saying "La la la."  She isn't even scared when her big hairy Grandpa makes silly faces and loud noises at her.  Cassandra says that they are doing good and that Emerson will be getting off of work at 4:00 for awhile.  I bet that will be nice.  I am so glad we got to visit with Cassandra and Lily!

Here's what I learned from studying Preach my Gospel this morning:  I need to study diligently with all my mind an heart, feasting on the word of God.  When my mind is unoccupied, I don’t want it to seek for thoughts of the world and rest them there.  I want it to delight in the things of the Lord and seek them and actively ponder them. If I do this the Holy Ghost will help these things sink deeply into my heart and enlighten my understanding.  I need to delight in the word of god and live it.   One way for Christ to abide in me is for His word to abide in my heart.  

Well, did I ever mention that Dad has the week off?  He does.  So I think we'll go on a bike ride this morning since chances are that Grandma will be sleeping.  I could really use the exercise.  Well, I take that back, Dad just checked on Grandma, and she's awake so I have to go feed her.

I love you, Matthew.  I hope you have the best of days.  We will get you stuff soon.  Please let me know what else you need. 


June 20--Letter From Matt!!

We were so excited to get this letter from Matt in the mail yesterday.  I think he must have written it on Saturday June 16.

Hey, Family!
I went to Vegas yesterday to get my Visa.  I’m actually on the plane home right now.  It has been pretty fun but I’m glad to be on my way back.  How are you guys?  Thomas, Sarah sent me an email with your (Facebook) post on it, I miss you too bud.  I miss you all.  I’m leaving for Mexico on the 2nd of July.  I don’t know how you can send letters, as far as packages go, I won’t get any you send most likely.  Are any of you reading/studying?  I love you all! 
PS Do you have my other pair of Gortex ECCOs (the new ones that we bought)?  If you could send them to me, I’d love that.  Oh, and a back scratcher!  PLEASE!! Ha ha, thank you for the other packages including the pictures! 
PPS  We just saw sister Sheri Dew yesterday (On Sunday.  Yes I know, I should have gotten this to you long before.) and she was awesome.  I’m writing this because, Mom, don’t you like her or something?  DON’T forget the BACK-SCRATCHER!!!!  Please…J

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 16--Dear Elder: EFY, Time with Brian, Moving Jon to College

Dear Elder,

Well, the week is in full swing now.  How are you doing? When is your departure date from the MTC?  How is your studying coming along?  I hope we hear from you soon!

We got it all done yesterday.  For one thing, Thomas and Katrina are at EFY.  I hope they are safe and happy.  We sent Katrina with a phone, but she has not called.  I trust that is a sign that all is going well.

It was a nice day yesterday which is true more because of outlook than anything else since nothing out of the ordinary happened.  After we dropped off the kids I did my weekly laundry at the landromat. While the clothes were washing and then drying, Dad and I drove to get gas and shop at Costco.  I found a nice big umbrella at Costco for a very good price to use at our outdoor table.  It is a beach umbrella so it is light and easy to use.  I've been wanting one for a long time, and you can't beat $25.  After Costco, we went to Subway for lunch.  As we sat at the Subway on 900 East, we marveled that 3 of our kids are currently residing within blocks of where we were eating lunch!  It made me feel close to you, Matt.

Miriam worked yesterday till 5:30.  She got offered a full time job at HR yesterday which means she no longer has to work in foods or to wonder if she will get enough hours.  I may have already mentioned that HR is nice because she gets to work in a air conditioned building and wear normal clothes instead of a uniform.  The other day she went to work in a long black dress.  That's our Miriam!  She works with a girl named Alyssa who is a returned missionary and listens to conference talks while they work :)

One of the reasons it was such a nice day was that I didn't have to worry about Grandma while I was gone since Jon checked on her and let us know that she was asleep.  I wish that Dad and Jon could have gone coyote hunting yesterday.  That would have been so cool!  As it was, I think it was a pretty dull day for Jon.  Today, however, will be a busy one for him because he and Dad and I are driving up northso that he can get an apartment, move in, and find a job.  We will be driving the van loaded with his stuff and he will be driving his car.

I get to go keep Dad company on the long drive because Elizabeth has kindly agreed to come and keep an eye on Grandma for part of the time that we will be gone.  She is so sweet to do that!  I figure Grandma will sleep the whole time since lately she's been waking up around 3:30 in the afternoon.  These days, even getting bathed and changed in the morning doesn't wake her up.

After doing the laundry, I left Dad to work on cutting down a tree at Grandma's and I got home before Grandma woke up.  It was also a nice day because I got everything done that I needed to do including laundry, finances, and grocery shopping.  That may not seem like any big deal, but at the first of summer, it took me an entire week to get all that done!  It sure is nice to have Miriam driving!

When Miriam and Dad got home, we ate dinner and had family home evening.  I can't find Grandpa's life story anywhere; It's not in my family history stuff, but I did find the 60 memories of Grandpa that the family wrote out for his 60th birthday, and we read those.  They really paint a good picture of how interesting, fun, and loving Grandpa is.  We also looked at pictures of him.

After family home evening, I went outside and found that a couple of neighbors had gathered next door, so I joined them for a good chat for about an hour.  I found out that Jason across the street is at EFY this week too.  What a coincidence!  They may see a lot of each other because they are both in the same section.  That would be cool, eh?  I had so much fun catching up with the neighbors.  I love our neighborhood!

After that, Miriam and I drove to get Dad who was back at the laundry again.  By that time it was 10:30 so we read scriptures in the car.  After Dad and I put Grandma to bed, I put myself to bed, and Dad went out to exercise which must have been very painful because of the big blister on the bottom of his foot.  Maybe he rode a bike, but that would have been dangerous in the dark.  Whatever he did, he survived because he's in bed right now, sawing logs.

We plan to leave with Jon by 8:30.  I sure hope we get off that soon so that I can be home at a decent hour.  I hope we find a nice place for Jon to stay and that he finds a job soon.  Life is pretty stressful for him right now with everything up in the air.

Yes, I studied Preach my Gospel today and read many wonderful scriptures about the Holy Ghost.  I am trying to ponder more, which is not something I have never been good at doing, but which is something that my patriarchal blessing says I need to do every day.  When I do ponder, I really feel the Holy Ghost in my life.  Studying Preach My Gospel helps me feel closer to you too, Matt, since you are studying it, also!

That's it for today, Matt.  Have a good one.  Be happy and work hard.  I love you so much!


Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18--Dear Elder: Garden Tour, Father's Day, etc.

Dear Elder,
Well, its Monday, and I am glad because that means you will be getting a letter from us today.  I don't like it that you get no letters on the weekend. I do hope that you had a nice weekend and that this will be a nice week for you, too.

Dad and I had fun on Friday and Saturday touring gardens all over the valley.  We enjoy the peace and beauty of strolling along together admiring people's beautiful homes.  We were a bit early on that first day, to we stopped to wash the car before we continued and boy were we glad that we did because we went to a house in a very fancy and gated neighborhood.  In fact, it was a gated property in a gated neighborhood, and we got to see the entry gardens, but a wall and another gate kept us far from the actual house, and we couldn't even see the roof of the house from the garden, the property was so extensive.  Still, the garden was beautiful with its ponds and fountains, etc.  My favorite part was the fact that they had the same bench and chairs as we have in front of our house which proves just how fancy we are.

That garden was not our favorite, though.  Our favorite garden was a property not too far away, but much less grand.  What a beautiful back yard!  Paths, and antique benches, a stream and a couple of small bridges, places for the grandkids to play, a hammock, and of course many beautiful plants and flowers and a vegetable garden made the property lovely.  I can't describe it in a way to do it justice.  Anyway, we saw those two gardens first, and then nine more.  We also enjoyed driving to the gardens together.  It was a wonderful time.

While Dad and I were doing that on Friday, the kids worked and also visited with cousins.  Jessica joined the girls and they went to the mall and did lots of shopping while Richard, Thomas, and Jon stayed home and played frisbee and build a fire in the fire pit to roast marshmallows.

The cousins left us Saturday morning with hugs and goodbyes and good memories.  The kids worked weird hours on Saturday and we spent lots of time driving them to and from work as well as finishing up the garden tour with two last gardens.  I wasn't in the brightest of moods on Saturday, but your sweet dad still enjoyed being with me because that's just the kind of guy he is.

Grandma has been asking for watermelon lately,and after the last one we got at the grocery store being so insipid, we decided to buy one from a corner stand.  It cost us $8 which is more than it would have been at the grocery store, but it was worth it!  Grandma and I ate a good amount of it ourselves Saturday evening.  No one else was there to enjoy it with us because I left Dad in to walk back to where his pickup was parked--6 miles away, Katrina was working, Miriam was at a friend's and Jon and Thomas were off at the arcade.  They won tickets enough to get Dad a beer can opener that said "#1 Dad"--ha ha.  I told them that they should have gotten him a wife beater shirt while they were at it.  They also got a boomerang which they enjoyed throwing till Dad threw it on the roof.  Anyway, that was our Saturday.

Sunday was, of course, Father's day.  The kids and I had a little miscommunication, so he didn't end up getting breakfast in bed before church, but after church the kids made him chicken and sweet potato fries.  They were delicious!  We had a nice time visiting together as a fam till Dad left to exercise and I went in to nap.  After that, Thomas, Katrina and I played a game.

After that we woke up Miriam from a nap and made Dad's father's day dinner which was delicious.  While we cooked, Dad got to Skype with Cassandra and we listened in while we worked.  He didn't get to Skype with Lily because she was in bed.  She sleeps from 6:30 pm to 6:00 am.  That's a long time!  I guess she just totally wears herself out during the day being so busy.  I also got to talk to Cassandra.  That was on Saturday, and she was telling me all about pinterest and that I should get on and start a pinterest board, and I did.  It was very fun.  Miriam and Katrina picked out a birthday present for Lily while they were at the mall with their cousins on Saturday.  It is a little swim suit, and it is so cute!

Well, Dad liked his Father's Day meal and alos his presents which, since I can't remember if I told you what they were, I'm going to tell you again.  The kids got him a pack of DVDs containing a bunch of old black and white comedy shows--a hundred in all.  He really loved it and couldn't believe it had so many.  He also loved the coyote hunting DVD he got, but he can't go out coyote hunting until he gets new glasses.  Till then , he cant see real well because his eye sight has improved.  Weird, right?  I mean, usually people's eyesight gets progressively worse.  Anyway, his glasses are too strong a prescription now, and he can't see well enough without glasses to shoot.  I hope he gets new glasses soon so that he can hunt with Jon before he leaves for Logan. For dessert we had sugar free root beer floats.  So that was our Father's Day celebration.

We were also going to have a Family Home Evening highlighting Grandpa's life, but Uncle Paul came over to see Grandma, and that took up the rest of the night.  We plan on giving the lesson about Grandpa tonight instead.  I did get to call Grandpa late last night and wish him Happy Father's Day.  Why didn't I have all the kids talk to him???  I didn't think of that till now.  Shoot.  Anyway, we had picked out a very nice card for him that had a beautiful water color scene and said just the right thing.  We really liked it and were excited to give it to him, and guess what?  He loved it!  We are so happy that he liked it as much as us.

Actually, Miriam will be the only kid here for Family Home Evening tonight because Katrina and Thomas leave for "Especially For Youth" today.  We will have to do a rerun of FHE next Sunday night, I think.  So, you will have two siblings living on campus only a few blocks from where you are for a whole week!  They are very excited about EFY.  They have attended before, but not an overnight EFY like this one. Miriam will also be leaving us at the end of the week for youth conference.  It's nice having the kids all with something fun to do.  Dad plans to work a lot while they are gone, and I plan on getting caught up on stuff around here.  We will also, hopefully, spend a lot of time together and with Miriam.

I am still studying Preach My Gospel, and it is changing my life!  Thanks for asking me to study it.    You will laugh, I just finished chapter one.  There is so much to study in each chapter, and I only have about a half hour a day to do it, but it has been wonderful. After reading and pondering the words and scriptures in chapter one, these are my goals:

1)Reach out to God--Pray to Him and ask Him to increase my love for Him and His children. Listen for His Holy Spirit, Do His will and try to be like Him.
2) Reach out to To God’s children--Have an open and loving heart. Serve them and speak out concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Well, that is our life in a nutshell.  We didn't hear from you last week, which makes us all the more excited to hear from you when you write next.  Please, please tell us when your departure date is and also send us a list of everything that you need us to bring you.  Matt, I know that you are very good at going without, but please think hard about what would make your life easier, and let us know so that we can get you all set before you leave. I love you and we love you.  I am so glad you are working so hard and learning so much.  I am glad that you will be representing our family, our Savior, and His church as a missionary in Mexico!


Friday, June 15, 2012

June 15--Dear Elder: Hanging out with Cousins, Help from Jon, Brian Exercising

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you today?  I sure hope you had a good day yesterday.  How is the language training coming along?  Did you have prep day yesterday?  I hope we get an email today!

We are just here having fun with the cousins.  Yesterday I took them to the falls while our kids were at work.  They seemed to enjoy that.  Later, when everyone got home, I took care of grandma and the kids and the cousins all hung out and had pizza for dinner outside.  After that, they all went to the library park and then they got ice cream.

I didn't see Jon yesterday, but he very sweetly picked up Thomas from work yesterday and then turned around and went back to pick up Katrina, too.  I was actually in town coming to pick them up, but they couldn't get a hold of me so they thought I wasn't coming.  I'm sure glad Jon was there for them.

It was Dad's day to work at the laundry yesterday, so I didn't see  him till 7:00 and when he got home, the Elder's quorum presidency dropped by.  It was nice to visit with the new president, brother Foster. Dad hiked the mountain behind campus yesterday and he and I also went for a walk, so he got lots of exercise!  Me, not so much :)

I have more pictures of Lily for you!  Cassandra posted some photos of her wearing a little purple dress that Sarah gave her.  It's so cute!

I talked to Shauna today.  Tanner's been in the MTC for a week now.  Have you seen him?  I guess they had to buy him a bike for his mission.  Weird.  She said that according to Tanner, there are 20 missionaries going to Eugene.  Wow, that's a lot! It would be fun if you guys saw each other.

Well, that's about it.  I hope you have a wonderful day.  Trust in God and do your best, and everything will work out for your good.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14--Dear Elder: Cousins Here, etc.

Dear Elder,

How are you today?  I hope you are having a nice week.  I am thinking that your p-day got switched from Tues to Wed since I got an email from you Tuesday, but none on Wednesday.  Well...if that's true, then maybe we'll get a letter in the mail from you today!  That would be cool.  Whatever day it comes, we'll take it!

Only Miriam worked yesterday.  Katrina went to a friend's and Thomas stayed home, cleaned his room, and showered.  Jon came to visit and he and Thomas cleaned out his (Jon's) car.  When Jon left for Weston's again, Thomas went to play with Garred.

The cousins rolled in about 5:30, and we had a very nice evening.  The kids stayed home from their young men's and young women's activities and hung out with cousins instead.  We had curry for dinner with Grandma and also Dad who was home from work by then.  Then we went to the park again just like last night.  Dad and I rode and then walked the trail, Miriam and Celeste walked and then rode the trail, Katrina and Sarabeth walked a fourth of the trail and did some photography, and Thomas and Richard stayed at the park to play frisbee.  Afterward we got Slurpees and read scriptures on the way home.  It was a nice evening.

Thomas, Richard, and Katrina stayed up to play a game and didn't get to bed till 1:30 and then Thomas was up again at 6:00 for football practice.  I hope he survives!  He also has work today--they all do unless someone has taken their shift since 9:00 last night.  I'm not sure what the cousins will do today.  I might take them up to campus to walk along the gardens, go to the science center and the book store, eat at the campus food court, etc.  We'll see.  I hope we see Jon sometime today.

As far as I know, Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily are doing well.  I'm glad you liked the pictures of Lily that I sent.  She is one happy little girl!

Well, GTG.  I love you, Matt.  Thanks for writing such nice letters to us, we really enjoy hearing what you are up to.  We also really like reading what you say about the gospel.  Bye till tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13--Dear Elder: Jon Home, Working with Katrina, Barbecue!

Dear Elder,

Hi! Today is P-day which means that today you are going to the temple, doing your laundry, emailing, and …what else? I have no idea. Probably some exercise, right? Let us know what you do on your preparation days. We get emails from you today, hooray!!! I can’t wait.

I had such a nice day yesterday. Miriam and Thomas started work early, so till 1:00 it was just Katrina and me at home. We cleaned up the kitchen and the fridge and worked outside. Outside we gave the flowers plant food and re-repaired the Adirondak chairs with new zip ties. It was so fun to have Katrina with me! We really had a nice time. At one o’clock I got her to work and stopped by Walmart on the way home. I bought stuff for a barbecue and some outdoor fabric.

When I got home, I tried to sleep, because I am always a couple hours shy of a full night’s sleep, but I couldn’t because I was so excited about my plans to use the fabric I’d bought. I popped out of bed and started to make a hammock, which is what I bought the fabric for. I was interrupted when Grandma’s friends from the old 19th ward came over to visit her. Sisters Hoover, Garrard, and Emma I, and Bishop Dunklee come over often to check on Grandma. I got Grandma out of her bed, and she really enjoyed visiting with them. She even remembered the name of Sis Garrard and Emma I. I have no idea why Emma I is Emma I. No one ever just calls her Emma, and I have no idea what her last name is or what the I stands for. It may be Emma Eye for all I know. Ay ay ay!

Well, Dad got home in time to catch the end of the visit. It was very nice to see him and after Grandma’s company had gone, I tried to stay awake to keep him company, but I couldn’t, so I left him to fend for himself and crashed in bed. When I woke up and went upstairs 15 min later, Jon was home! Hooray! He stayed only awhile—long enough to give us hugs and donuts and ketchup potato chips. Then he went to Weston’s for the night which is where he is staying till the cousins, who will arrive this afternoon, go home on Saturday. Wow, it was nice to see Jon. He said he’d be back today. So he left for Weston’s and Dad left to hike.

With everyone gone, I had fun making the hammock on the swing set outside. I didn’t sew it or even tie knots, I just slipped the fabric through the rings of the old hammock and zip tied it in place. It was really fun because it’s been eons since I’ve been able to do anything fun and creative. Now I have plans for an awning and a cover for the swing chair. I will try to send you picts when it’s done.

As you may recall, we switched family home evening from Monday night to Tuesday night, so when everyone got home around 7:00, we had a barbecue with hamburgers, corn on the cob, and baked beans. We wheeled Grandma out on the deck to oversee the activities. We had a very nice meal despite the sun. I have got to get an umbrella! Afterward, Miriam convinced us all to go to the park for a nice walk and bike ride. We loaded up the two bikes in the pick up and when we got there we took turns biking and walking the trail. That has got to be the most beautiful trail in the world! Anyway, Thomas was exhausted from work and in lots of pain from his Monday work out with the football team and didn’t want to come, but he was a real trooper and waddled along beside us, complaining cheerfully.

Well, today I have a meeting. Yuck. Not because it will be unpleasant, but because there are so many other things I need and want to do. Still, it will be fun to visit with the rest of the stake young women’s presidency. They are fun and awesome friends.

Well, here are my thoughts after studying Preach My Gospel this morning. First, Gal 5:22-25 says in part that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. The next verse basically says that through the Holy Ghost, the affections and lusts of the flesh are mastered. It is interesting to me that the fruits of the Spirit are not things vauled by the world, with the exception of joy, yet these are the very things that bring joy!

I’ve also been thinking more about commitments and covenants. I made a commitment yesterday morning to eat wisely. I started out fine but then the donuts arrived.  I did not keep my commitment; I planned to eat only one, but I ate more.  I am beginning to realize that every time I keep a commitment, it strengthens my ability to keep my covenants and every time I don’t keep a commitment, it weakens my ability to keep my covenants. So when I keep commitments I am in essence keeping my covenants.

Well, Matt, that’s all for now! I have to go make Miriam a salad to eat at work for lunch. I make enough for me to eat for lunch, too. I love you very much! It is so nice to write to you every day. It helps us keep in touch with you, and brings our whole family together. Have a great day!

Que Te Vaya Bien!
Mucho amore,

PS. In case you get this letter before the email I just sent, it says the following: What?? Weird!! You sent an email on Tues. What's up with that? How awesome to get on the email this morning and be surprised with a message already. So fun! Do you get to be on the email today, too? I hope so!
(Blog note:  The email said, "Thanks, Mom.  Lily is really cute!"  I had sent him 3 picts of Lily with Pooh Bear and Piglet)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Elder
Hi.  How’s life at the MTC?  Thanks for sending us your schedule.  It’s amazing to see how hard you work!  It must be hard to keep up such a pace, but I can see the way it is blessing your life, and I am so glad that you are doing it.  Here are a few notes on what is happening around here.

I let Miriam drive the little brown pickup into work yesterday, but I followed behind her in the Sienna.   She had Thomas in the passenger seat, and I told him to avoid distracting her, and to help her drive.  She did a great job with the stick shift and only killed it once, and that was on a small hill in the parking lot.  It’s a good thing that I was behind her, though, because I’d forgotten that she had a brake light out.   Plus, the rear view mirror fell off when she hit a bump.  Anyway, Dad drove into later and had it all fixed up by the time she needed to drive home.  I hear she didn’t do so well driving home and that she killed the engine a number of times.  Still, I let her drive Thomas in this morning without following her.  I hope she does well.

Another bit of news about Miriam, yesterday she got promoted to assistant HR director.  This means she gets to sit at a desk in an air conditioned building and do paperwork.  She is very happy about it and so am I.  On Sunday she was talking about quitting and getting another job.  I wasn’t thrilled with the idea because 1) I don’t want her to have to work on Sunday, and 2) I don’t want her to have to work during the school year when she should be concentrating on getting good grades.  I’ve been praying that she wouldn’t have to do these things, especially work on Sunday, so I feel like this was an answer to prayer.

Thomas and Miriam worked very long hours yesterday and didn’t com home till almost ten.  I can’t figure out how we let that happen since last night was family home evening.  I just plain forgot about it!  Anyway, we are going to have family home evening tonight instead.  We plan on having a barbecue.  I am really looking forward to it.

Speaking of looking forward to tonight, Jonathan will be home tonight!  Who knows, he may even be home in time to barbecue with us.  He called last night to let us know that he made it safely to his hotel in Montana.  I am grateful for that.  Well, the job may not have turned out the way he wanted, but he definitely had a big adventure.  I hope he can get a good job soon and begin earning money for school.

So anyway, with Miriam and Thomas gone, Katrina and I had lots of time together just us.  We went to Macey’s to do our grocery shopping.  She talked me into buying lots of yogurt—some for last night and some for this morning.  Talking me into it was not hard to do.  When we got home, we put away our groceries, ran Katrina’s yogurt through the ice cream maker (I prefer mine unfrozen), and watched “The Legend of Kora” with Grandma while we ate.  I gave Grandma yogurt, too.  It was nice to spend time with Katrina last night.  We also made dinner—oven baked chicken and sweet potatoes. 
We didn’t eat dinner till about 9:00 when Dad and Thomas came home.  It was nice to eat together. 

When Miriam came home, we had scriptures and then Dad and I went on a walk.  He told me about how he got to talk to Cassandra on the phone.  He said they are doing good, and that she just called to shoot the breeze, so that’s nice.  I really like walking with Dad because not only do I get a bit of exercise, we get to talk.  Walking last night was not the only exercise Dad got, though.  He also hiked Y mountain.  He’s trying to get more fit.

Dad had a hard day teaching yesterday.  At Birdseye, two of the kids were sick, so the staff had them bring in their sleeping bags and lay in the classroom.  What’s with that???   At the blue house, sometimes the girls are hard to teach, and sometimes the boys.  They seem to take turns.  Yesterday it was the boys.  I suppose that one of these days it will be both the girls and the boys, poor Dad.

I am learning so much from my study of Preach My Gospel.  There is great power in that book!  I learn so much from the scriptures it assigns me to read. 

I love you, Matt!  Having you on a mission is such a wonderful experience for us.  We can’t wait to hear from you again.  Until then, “Que te vaya bien.”  What does that mean, anyway?


PS  Haven’t heard much Spanish from you lately.  How’s the language study coming?

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11--Dear Elder: Brian Diagnosed, Jon Coming Home, Weekend Happenings

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How was your weekend?  I hope it was a really good one.  Ours was pretty good.  We had bad news on Friday, though, when Dad went to the doctor and was officially diagnosed with diabetes.  It came as no surprise, but is still pretty hard on us. 

Friday evening, Dad and I went out on a quick date.  Grandma had slept all day long, Thomas was gone at the Varsity rendezvous, and Miriam was at Preston’s uncle’s birthday party.  Katrina was home alone with ice cream and a movie.  Dad and I ate at a deli at the point of the mountain.  After that, we went to the hunting store which is NOT my idea of a date destination, but we had just gotten word that Grandma was awake, and we needed to be home too soon to do much else anyway, so we made a quick stop there.

Dad wanted to go to the hunting store because he wants to hunt coyotes.  They just increased the bounty on coyotes to $50 a dog.  Like I told Jonathan, Dad likes the idea of it because it won't cost much, involves long drives, shooting, wearing camo, spending time with who ever in the family goes with him,  not bringing home any game, and doing a service.  He also likes the idea of earning a bit of money to pay for the experience.  The worker we talked to at Cabelas had gone many times, so it was nice to get his advice.  We bought him a small kit with a how to video and a couple of callers.  It’s good because it gives Dad something else to think about besides his diabetes.

Saturday involved Dad taking kids into work and working at the laundry and me doing some much-needed cleaning at home.  Grandma slept a lot again, so we were able to get lots done.  In the afternoon, Dad and I went into Provo, but in the evening we went out as a fam and spent a nice time together.  It would have been fun to be outside doing a barbecue, but the wind was crazy.  Remember how windy it was that day?  Anyway, that was our Saturday.

At church, all the young women sat on the stand, and some of them, including Katrina, gave talks on girl’s camp.  They all did a wonderful job and we all felt the same spirit that the girl’s felt at camp this year.  All of the young women stood and sang “Live It,” their camp song which is based on D&C 15:4 which says “Arise and shine forth that thy light may be a standard to the nations” which is the young men/young women theme for this year.  It was so nice to hear the song that I learned to love at camp be sung again by the beautiful young women in our ward including my own daughters.

After church, Dad went for a walk, Miriam and Thomas took a nap, and Katrina and I played scrabble.  She wanted to have it so that we could only use terms and names from the Book of Mormon.  It was really hard and I had to get pretty creative in order to use any word.  For example, one word I made was “toupee.” when Katrina challenged me on it, I thought quickly and said that when the servant of Moroni took off the scalp of Zarahemna, he was really creating the first toupee.   Even with my genius in finding words, Katrina won.  Then she and I made dinner—corn fritters, beans with meat, and salad.  By then, Dad was home and Mir and Thom were awake, so we had a nice family dinner.  After that, most of us adjourned to the living room where Thomas and I played Scrabble and Dad talked to Jon on the phone.  Playing scrabble with Thomas was kind of like playing Scrabble solitaire since I usually had to look at his tiles and help him spell a word.  Anyway, it was a nice time.

Before church, Grandma was actually awake, so I got her out in her chair to be with the family during breakfast time.  That must have really worn her out because we couldn’t even get her to wake up to take the sacrament after church.  She did wake up later around 6:00, however, just about an hour before Don, Renee, Donny, and Becky came to visit her.  We got her out in her chair again and had a nice visit with everyone.  Thomas got his trumpet out for Donny, since they both play, so much of our conversation was punctuated by loud blasts coming from the bedroom.  Becky took Grandma out on the deck, which I think she really liked, although it made her cold.  She’s always cold.

Jon called Dad a lot yesterday, and the gist of it all is that he is coming home.  We will see him on Tuesday, I think.  It will be nice to see him again.  He will be staying at Troy’s since Richard, Celeste, and Sarabeth will be coming here for a visit.  I think Jon’s plan is to get an apartment and job in Logan so that he will be ready to start at USU in the fall.  I think it’s a wise plan, and hope that everything works out well for him.  I hope we can have a barbecue while he is here!  He’s the one who likes to have barbecues and use the fire pit and I miss doing that with him.

Dad talked to Cassandra recently, and I think they are all doing well—I only heard half of the conversation.  Dad is the Lily hero because he’s the one who picked out Pooh Bear for her at Disneyland.  I told him that he is going to have a hard time topping that gift this year.  I’m sure he’ll try, though!

Thomas went to work out with the high school football team early this morning.  It made him so sick he was dry heaving.  Fun time, eh?  He really wants to be a part of a sport, though, so he’s sticking with it.  I told him he’ll have to talk to Dad about it to make sure Dad will let him, and that he has to commit to a whole year without quitting unless it turns out to be a bad environment.   It is a big money and time investment, so we’ll have to see what happens.

I’ve been having  a wonderful time studying Preach My Gospel.  I love the following statement from the book:  “...the Church is not just another religion, nor is it an American church. Rather, it is a restoration of the “fullness of [the] gospel” (D&C 1:23), the same as was revealed and taught from the beginning.”  I love it because I know it is true!  It also said that when people make commitments to do things that increase their faith in Christ (scripture reading, daily prayer, church attendance, etc), they are preparing themselves to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple.  So, making commitments prepares us to make covenants.  That makes so much sense.  After all, the things we covenant to do in the temple are basically things that a righteous member of the church has already committed to do—a covenant cements those commitments and qualifies us for greater blessings from God.  I love the temple and the gospel!

Last night at scripture time with Grandma, Dad talked about you and what you said about scripture reading.  He encouraged all of us to use what you said to make our scripture reading more effective in drawing us closer to Jesus Christ.  We started our family scripture reading with a prayer to help us feel the spirit more.  After reading, we had a wonderful discussion about what we can learn from what we read and Dad encouraged everyone to reach out to others in forgiveness and love.  I told the kids that the people we have the hardest time getting along with are the very people that God has placed in our lives to teach us how to love unconditionally.

Well, that’s all the news for today, Matt.  Thanks for your letters and encouragement and your love.  We hope that you work hard and do your best—Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will do the rest!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Email from Matt

This email was hard to find, but here it is!  Written 06-06-2012

Hi, thanks for the picture of lilly! I usually don't have my scriptures
 with me when I look at my E-mail, I only have a limited time on here, and I
 get on right after we go to the temple, I don't think that I can answer all
 of your questons on e-mail. sorry! I thought I saw dad at the temple today,
 but it was just a guy with a beard.... Not that Dad is just a guy with a
 beard. I was kinda worried that it was him and what I should do and
 everything. Sara sent me some "Mexican Popcorn" It's a wonderful gesture
but we don't have any sort of popcorn popper here so I think I'll use the
 little box as a decoration, untill I get to Mexico. I miss you all, a lot.
 I hope that you are all having a ton of fun, that (working at the water park) isn't too bad, and that you are all feeling well. I'm feeling really sick right now, We
 don't get any DearElders on Saturday or Sunday and because Monday was
Memorial day, we didn't get anything on that day either. On Tuesday though,
 I got 5 dear elders at once. I hope Mom is having fun at camp! Um, I'm
sorry that this E-mail is totally and incredibly random, but I didn't get
much sleep last night and we wake up early to go to the Temple, so I guess
I have an excuse.

Letter From Matt

This letter from Matt was written on Wednesday June 6, 2012.  We received it two days later on Friday.  Now, two days after that, I am finally posting it.


Hi family!

How are you doing?  I know that Mom will answer that question over the week, and let me start this letter off by saying:  Thank all of you who have written letters to me.  I really appreciate it and it brightens up my whole day!  I really want to thank Mom also,  Mom, you always uplift me without fail, and you talk about how things are going and I really appreciate it.

A Day in the Life of a Missionary

Well, everything is the same here at the MTC.  I could give you a quick run-down of a day so you will get how they go.  We wake up at 6:30, get ready, shower, dress and are in the classroom by 7:00.  7:45 we go to breakfast, 8:20 its class time, we usually do grammar, “progressing investigator,” and a fundamental, by the end of that its 11:25 and we have personal study time for an hour.  Then, 12:25, few have lunch.  Next is gym.  It starts at 1:25 and so we have to change and be at the Gym by then.  2”15, gym ends and we have 35 min. to shower, change, go back to the class, grab stuff and then we have technology assisted language learning (or TALL) at 2:50.  We do assignments on computers until 3:55 and then its language study time.  After that, at 4:55 we have ½ hr. of daily planning and then we are off to dinner at 5:25, back to class at 6:10 where we stay filling our little minds with knowledge until about 9:10pm, and then it’s 9:10 to 9:30 additional study time (AKA we can study whatever we want but most people end up talking) then its back to our rooms.  We usually have a room prayer.  Most people talk and stuff, I try to read letters, write in my journal, do an inventory of what I did that day and how I can improve, and finish the day  with a nice long prayer.  By the end of all that, it’s usually 11:0 and then, in what seems like no time, the day starts over again.  So the days pass like weeks and the weeks pass like days and if you aren’t careful a month can fly by totally and completely wasted.

Anyway, thank you for the package, it will be very helpful in the future!  J  I don’t know what else to write,…Thomas!  Keep your shirt on!  Ha Ha…but seriously do. 

The Temple

Katrina, going to the temple is a wonderful opportunity.  I look forward to it every week.  Will you do me a favor?  After I leave the MTC I won’t be able to go to the temple for two years.  Please, will you go every chance you get?  I know that you will be blessed, and more than that, going to the temple is vital for your salvation.  Going to the temple is one of the few things that will actually matter all of your life.  You will never regret it.  We wake up at 5:50 am every P day to go to the temple, and I haven’t heard one person ever complain.

The Scriptures

Thomas, and everybody actually (I only write “Thomas” because we’ve been talking about this.), set aside a time in the day when you can read your scriptures.  Start your reading with a prayer.  In that prayer, be sure to do two things,
1.        1.  Thank God for all of your blessings.  Be specific.  Realize that all good things come from god.
2.        2.  Ask to have the Holy Ghost teach you as your read.  Plead for this with a sincere heart and with the intent to follow His prompting.
As you read, write down things that strike you.  Get a notebook and make it your study journal.  The spirit can communicate to us with good thoughts in our mind.  “Knowledge recorded is knowledge in time of need and will increase the likelihood of receiving revelation.”  As you read, focus.  Think about what you are reading.  If it’s talking to someone, replace their name with yours.  When someone does something and receives blessings, highlight what they did and follow their example.  End your study with a prayer again, thanking God and asking for any further teaching. 
If you will do all of these things for about an hour each day, and follow and live what you are taught, I promise all of you; you will change your lives, that you will be blessed.  God loves you and wants to help you, but you have to do your part by learning and striving to do His will.  I promise as you do this that the Lord won’t lead you astray and that you will have more joy in your life. 
Will you commit to that?  If you do, tell Mom and if Mom could tell me, then I would love it if each of you share something that you’ve learned, if you commit.  If you even do it for 2 weeks, you will start seeing a difference.  I think that’s all.  I look forward to hearing from every single one of you.